Equally Well

Studies have shown low levels of physical activity among minority ethnic groups in the UK, particularly among South Asian populations (1)

Analysis of separate South Asian groups suggests that people from the Bangladeshi community have markedly lower levels of physical activity than other South Asian groups, while those of Indian ethnicity have the highest levels; although still lower than the White population (2)

Asian women are the least active of all women with 9.5% taking part in regular sport compared to 12.8% of White females (3)

Fewer than 1 in 5 members of some BME communities are participating in physical activities as infrequently as once a month (4)

Obesity in England has more than doubled in the last twenty five years. Although this recent increase can be seen in virtually every country in the world, the rate of increase in England has been particularly high (5)

Some BME groups experience worse health than others. For example, surveys commonly show that Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black-Caribbean people report the poorest health, with Indian, East African Asian and Black African people report the same health as White British and Chinese people reporting better health (6)

The Health Survey of England (1999) reports that South Asian men and women as well as all Black Caribbean women aged 55+ report relatively high levels of limiting longstanding illness compared to the general population (7)

The Health Survey of England (1999) also reports that Black Caribbean men and all BME women aged 55+ have a greater incidence of high blood pressure than the general population (8)

Pakistani and Bangladeshi men and women reported worse general health than the general population (9)

Asians aged 50 or over have higher rates of limiting long-term illness than members of any other ethnic groups (10)

In general, elders from BME groups are more likely to report being in poor health and that activity in their daily lives has been restricted due to illness or injury (11)

Pakistanis and Bangladeshis of both sexes were more than five times as likely as the general population to have diabetes, and Indian men and women were almost three times as likely (12)

There are higher rates of coronary heart disease amongst Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups and higher levels of hypertension in the Black-Caribbean group (13)

Rates of diabetes among Black Caribbean's were also significantly higher than in the general population (risk ratios 2.51 for men and 4.19 for women) (14)


1, 5 : Fischbacher CM, Hunt S, Alexander L. How physically active are South Asians in the United Kingdom? A literature review. Journal of Public Health 2004; 26(3):250–58.

2 : National Obesity Observatory (2011) Obesity and Ethnicity

3 : Active People Survey 2009-10 (2011) Women’s Sport Participation, Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation

4 : Guardian Online (2004) Exercise Five Times A Week, Public Urged

6: Postnote (2007) Ethnicity & Health. Parliamentary Office Of Science & Technology

7, 8, 11, 13: Policy Research Institute On Ageing & Ethnicity (2007) PRIAE Policy Response To The Call For Evidence- 'Mayor of London?s Health Inequalities Strategy.

9, 10, 12, 14 : Ploszajski Lynch Consulting Ltd (2005) Increasing BME Participation In Sport & Physical Activity By Black & Minority Ethnic Communities.

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